The Richest Kid in School

Hi Alice!  Here’s my marbles story.

Playing marbles was a spring thing. We couldn’t wait for dry ground to play big ring, little ring, cigar, chase, or lag. We played every day then poof it ended and you stashed your marbles until next spring.

Marbles measured a boy’s wealth. The more marbles, the richer you were. Each season, I soon grew poor: We played for keeps—the winner took all the marbles—and I was not a sharpshooter. But one spring, a fire in a newsstand made me the richest kid in school.

Now the only thing worth more than a marble was a tattoo, a small square of paper with a picture of an Indian chief, cowboy, ship, or lady in a bathing suit.  You licked your arm, pressed the tattoo over the wet spot, and wore the picture all day. A tattoo cost one penny or one marble.

The newsstand on fire sold tattoo books—hundreds per book. The firemen sprayed everything, including the tattoo books. Some books we’re just damp, but the man threw them all away even though the tattoos were OK.  My policeman father was checking on the fire. He saw the damp tattoo books and brought them home for me. I took a book to school the next day and came home with my pockets bulging. All my classmates wanted tattoos and were glad to trade for marbles.

At home, I dumped the treasure in my coaster wagon to admire it and a strange thing happened. I was the richest kid in school, but what do you do with books of tattoos and hundreds of marbles?  I discovered marbles make fine ammunition for my slingshot.

Next time, my Deeps story. I love you.

Great-grandpa Lloyd

 

I Become a Writer

Alice 13      I Become a Writer

I never planned to become a writer. I never studied writing. Yet a couple dozen books and a thousand stories and other stuff have my name on them.

I remember the day the writing idea was born. I was alone in our little house on Oneida Street, sort of napping. I found my mind telling a story! It was about the Bob’s Hill Boys, ids a little older than me I met in several books by Richard Pierce Burton. They were my kind of boys. I loved their secrets.

My story came almost like a dream. I thought, Maybe I could become a writer! Of course I didn’t tell anyone; they would laugh; I was just nine. Writers were important men with beards on cards in the Authors game sister Hazel and I played. But the writing idea never left me.

Well, I never wrote Bob’s Hill Boys story, but when I got old, I wrote a storybook book about grown-up boys and I met at Lake Ellen Camp in Michigan. The book has four stories: Big Foot and the Michigamme Trolls, The Curse of the Cross-eyed Moose, a story about Grandma Hoppola’s fine jersey cow, and a long Alaska poem about gold miner Tim I knew when he was a kid.

Tell you what: I’ll send you the book. You’ll love the cover. When you get older, you can read and maybe write a story about me.

Love you, Alice. Next time I’ll tell you about a pocket full of marbles.

Great-grandpa Lloyd

Elephant to the Rescue

Hi, Alice.  Great-grandpa Lloyd again.

I told you about my first school years and that I wasn’t very good at studies. Books were my problem. I learned to read in first and second grades from the teacher’s flashcards with big letters, but picture books with small print were a mystery. I think the teacher figured I was slow.

Grade three had just begun when our mother took sister Hazel and me our first circus. The big, big tent with three rings fascinated me. All those clowns from one little car!  Mother pointed across the center ring and said, “Look! An elephant!  I couldn’t see an elephant.

Mother took me to an eye doctor in the Medical Arts Building.  He put me in big black chair and made me look through a machine with little glass circles. “What letters do you see?” I saw a black blur. He kept changing  glass circles until E G W R popped up. The doctor peered in my eyes with a bright light, scribbled on a small paper, and gave it to Mother. Severe astigmatism, he said. I had no idea what that meant.

The next week I got my first glasses and became the only four-eyes in our class. Kids teased me, but I could read! I began going to the library three blocks from our school every chance I got.  I read every book in the kids’ section a boy would like.  Sometimes I sneaked over to the big people’s section until I got kicked out. I got my own library card and took many books home, winning the summer reading award. My report cards got a lot better.

Next time:  I become a writer. Love you, Alice

Great-grandpa Lloyd

Letters to Alice 10 My First Campout

Hi, Alice.  Great-grandpa Lloyd here.

I took my very first campout when I was eleven.  A buddy and I got permission to spend the night on the hill. We had no tent. We tied food and a flashlight in our blankets and followed the trail to the spring, pausing to drink. At the top, where Hawk Ridge is now, we found a flat place where we could look down on our neighborhood.

There were no fir trees to make bough beds like Deep River Jim wrote about in his Wilderness Trail Book, so we gathered ferns and long grass. We spread out our blankets then explored the area around us. Toward evening we built a fire, ate our sandwiches, then sat time talking and watching city lights blow us come on one by one.

It was fairly dark when we climbed under our blankets, sleeping in our clothes. We were cold right away, and the ground was hard with small stone poking into our backs. I lay there looking up at the stars. Maybe I slept a little.

No way could I have imagined how many campouts lay ahead of me. Baxter Park in Maine, a  bull moose picking his way among sleeping campers as he headed for the lake. The night of the skunk in Wyoming, saddle horses nearby. Canoe Country campfire, the sky ablaze with Northern Lights. A scary night in Twisp Pass, Washington and burrowed into the snow at sixteen below in Alaska. Mountain treks in Japan and Austria. Canada’s Cascades; Early morning in the desert on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

It will be interesting to see where life takes you, Alice. Live happy each day.  I love you.

Great-grandpa Lloyd

 

 

 

 

Susan Kline Did it Again Part Two

Susan Kline concludes her provocative comments on an ancient problem: Why do bad things befall good people? Susan points out we have no answer for that; but we don’t have to know everything to feel secure in God’s love. Susan wrote:

Eventually, we read that God speaks. He’s heard enough of accusations and questioning from Job and his friends. Beginning in chapter 38, He reminds Job that He alone is God, Creator of all, and He decides what will happen to whom. Job does not know the things that God knows and has no business questioning His ways. After being rebuked, Job replies, “I am unworthy – – how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer – – twice, but I will say no more” (Job 40:4-5, NIV). Job got the message.

Similarly, who am I to question what God is doing in my life or in the life of someone else? Why do we always feel the need to have answers or know the reason for our plight? Is that walking by faith or by sight? Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5:45 that God causes His sun to rise on the good and the evil, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. No one is exempt from trials, and no one has the answers to all of life’s questions. No one, except God. “Our God is in Heaven; He does whatever pleases Him” (Psalm 115:3, NIV). We don’t need to know, we just need to trust!

To receive a fresh start each day, email tracy@oakwoodnow.org. You will be blessed.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Susan Kline Did it Again

Susan Klein’s May 31 Fresh Start devotional did it again. I love her wisdom and writing. Working from Proverbs 17:28 (NIV), “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue,” she nailed me:

Usually when I need an example of perseverance through trial, I go to the book of Job. Here was a blameless and upright man who suffered extreme personal loss, while also enduring ridicule and shame by those who supposedly loved him the most. Yet, while he is the model of perseverance, I’ve come to learn another lesson from Job that I want to emulate: “I don’t need to have all the answers.”

After his period of grieving, Job’s friends started to pummel him with questions as to why God would allow such a travesty to occur to such a godly man. For a while, Job accepts his lot, defending his Creator to those who are making accusations. But, eventually his despair gets the better of him and Job starts to question God as well. “What did I do to deserve this? Why have you made me your target?” (paraphrased from chapter 7)

Eventually, we read that God speaks. He’s heard enough of accusations and questioning from Job and his friends. Beginning in chapter 38, He reminds Job that He alone is God, Creator of all, and He decides what will happen to whom. Job does not know the things that God knows and has no business questioning His ways. After being rebuked, Job replies, “I am unworthy – – how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer – – twice, but I will say no more” (Job 40:4-5, NIV). Job got the message.

Similarly, who am I to question what God is doing in my life or in the life of someone else? Why do we always feel the need to have answers or know the reason for our plight? Is that walking by faith or by sight? Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5:45 that God causes His sun to rise on the good and the evil, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. No one is exempt from trials, and no one has the answers to all of life’s questions. No one, except God. “Our God is in Heaven; He does whatever pleases Him” (Psalm 115:3, NIV). We don’t need to know, we just need to trust!

Thanks, Susan.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

Ode and Me 11 An Outpost on Loon Lake

My stories with Ode could go on forever. I’ll share one more, set in a Bible camp in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

In 1991 I served as interim director at Lake Ellen Bible Camp near Crystal Falls. I had had a hand in the camp’s beginnings 20 years before.  Good leadership had built attractive buildings and a strong program around the waterfront and ball fields, utilizing about 20 of the camp’s nearly 400 acres, which included small Loon Lake.

I believe every camp should offer its kids an outpost experience. Nature will speak to hearts, if we give it a chance. When the board asked me to suggest ways to enhance the camp’s outreach, my mind flew to the outpost potential of Loon Lake. I proposed building two shelters for cabin group overnights. Board members listened politely but I gathered they had other priorities.

In a moment of insanity, I asked if the board would allow an outpost if I could pull it off without involving staff or camp dollars. I got an OK. I had no idea how I could pull it off. My first camp newsletter reported the Lake Ellen Hunting, Fishing, Camping, and Literary Society whose sole purpose would be building an outpost on Loon Lake called Fort Brainerd.

By late summer, volunteers had built and paid for two Adirondack shelters and an old trapper’s cabin overlooking the lake. The cabin presented a problem. Its location on a steep bank called for a tricky foundation so that had not been accomplished.

That’s where the project stood when Garry Cropp came on board as director, ending my interim. It weighed on my mind as I returned home. I called Ode.

A week later Ode we were on our way to Lake Ellen. Volunteers were waiting. The lumber yard in Crystal Falls provided material, and with Ode as ramrod, we built the hillside foundation, deck and railings in three days. We headed home pleased.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

Ode and Me 10 Somewhere, Ode was Grinning

My years of friendship with Ode enriched me more than I can tell, but sometimes he was downright sneaky.

North Shore Church folded a few years after I left, destroyed by two my-way-or-no way pastors.  Finally, sixteen remaining members convened and the pastor’s motion to disband prevailed.  The property reverted to the denomination, which put it up for sale.

While the sale was in progress, a small group of North Shore friends secured the use of the Fireside Room to cluster around a young mother hit by cancer. They met Sunday mornings under Clyde Roger’s leadership. Though I had followed North Shore’s sad decline, I hadn’t heard about the group.

Then Elsie seriously injured her back and I became a full time home caregiver. As her mobility declined, church attendance faded and we missed it.

I had kept in touch with Ode and Joanne, early casualties at North Shore. Ode had friends in the care group. One morning he phoned. He said the group needed help. I suggested we meet at Clyde’s to talk it over. We agreed on a date. I showed up but Ode didn’t. The following Sunday, Elsie and I made our way to the Fireside Room.

The group eventually morphed into a house church with Clyde and I sharing leadership–Elsie could handle a lounge chair. We enjoyed nearly three years of blessed fellowship.

Somewhere,  Ode was grinning.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Ode and Me 9 Saving Fredenberg Chapel

Fredenberg Chapel was in a rural setting about 20 miles north of Duluth. When I came as interim pastor, attendance was down, morale was low, and the building program was at a stand-still. The congregation needed a spark. I grabbed a hammer, called a super sheet rock Saturday, the women fixed lunch, and fresh breezes blew.

Pros had constructed the large metal structure; volunteers from the chapel took it from there. Some were artisans, some broom and shovel people. When I was assigned to build a wall in the balcony, I asked to see the blueprint and they chuckled. Work was mostly room by room seat of your pants. No blueprint.

Early on we ran into a major problem. The main stairs to the lower level would never pass inspection. Anyone six feet tall had to duck to clear the heading at the bottom.  The first-level floor was precast reinforced concrete; the stairs were poured concrete. It seems there was no fix. I consulted with treasurer Harvey Sandstrom and phoned Ode.

Once again, I watched two men bond: Ode, a rough-hewn contractor; Harvey, a first-class artist. Ode took on the project at half his usual pay.

He solved the stair problem and one day pointed out another flaw. He stood with men at the head of balcony stairs looking down on the auditorium. “First time ten people stand here, this end of the balcony will collapse.”

The rest of the balcony was cantilevered over the rooms below, but there was no way to cantilever over stairs. He secured the balcony to the exterior wall. Ode stayed through major construction, often improvising the seemingly impossible.

We held the Christmas program in the new fellowship hall. When I left Fredenberg in the spring for other duties, the building was complete except for carpeting and lighting. Had it not been for Ode, the project could have died.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

Ode and Me 8 Ode and the Delinquent Divider

My friendship with Ode and Joanne grew as my tenure a North Shore continued. He invited me along on several Isle Royale fishing  trips. We made a run to Grand Portage to repair Mt. Rose Chapel on the Indian Reservation. Then, after 44 years of church -related ministry, Elsie and retired to launch our Wordshed Mission, leaving our beloved congregation.

Learning I was free, churches began calling me for Sunday preaching. Emmanuel Baptist of Virginia, Minnesota invited me to serve as interim pastor while they sought a new pastor. Part-time work was compatible with our writing/publishing goals and I accepted.

On my first Sunday, I noted an ugly track across the foyer carpet, obviously left by a malfunctioning room divider. The building was new. I asked why the problem hadn’t been fixed and a trustee explained: The builder goofed, suspending the room divider under a trimmed-out heat run that sagged just enough under the weight of the long Pella divider to mar the carpet. There seemed no way to beef up the suspension. I told the trustee I knew a really good divider fixer and phoned Ode.

He showed up the next day and in five minutes figured out a solution. He took a few measurements and told the men to show up Saturday morning.

Saturday Ode toted his toolbox into the church along with an long drill bit only a contractor would have and a sturdy box of the longest lag screws known to man. He had welded standard lag screws to short lengths of rebar. By noon the divider glided happily on its track. When asked for his bill, Ode said, let’s eat.

Old Grandpa Lloyd